Pakistani ODI captain Misbah-ul-Haq is a slow and defensive cricketer short of his 41st birthday. He has never scored an ODI century in his life.
Strange for a format where Sachin Tendulkar had 49 and even comparative newcomers like Virat Kohli and Hashmi Amla have 22 and 20 centuries respectively.
To make matters worse, he has a career strike rate of 74. That would have been great in the 1980s and OK in the 1990s, but it is totally out of place in 2015.
There have been about 20 cricketers who have or had a strike rate of 100+ in international cricket. There’s Glenn Maxwell, Luke Ronchi and Thisara Perera to name a few. A slow captain sets a slow pace for the rest of the team and the highest Pakistan scored against a Test playing nation in World Cup 2015 was 235-7 versus Zimbabwe.
They last they scored a 300 against a Top 8 nation outside of Asia more than two years ago in South Africa. Very few Top 8 nations boast of such a woeful record. In fact India scored a 300 every time it batted first in the tournament.
The only man who has a 100%+ plus career strike rate is Shahid Afridi. However his record is even worse than Misbah. In five World Cups spanning 16 years Afridi has a mere 325 runs with the highest score of 37.
The number of batsmen who have scored more runs in a single World Cup is too long to mention here. The other senior player Younis Khan last scored an ODI century with a strike rate greater than 100 sometime back in 2008. It seems that Pakistan batting is stuck in a time warp and the management sees absolutely no need for acceleration.
Ahmed Shehzad has an ODI career strike rate of 72.2 and Harris Sohail is 76.9. That’s in the Misbah zone. Sarfraz Ahmed has a strike rate of 85.2, but he wasn’t in the team early on and he’s a relative newcomer.
Now you may point to the fast bowling which is always a strong point of Pakistan. They have the likes of Wahab Riaz and Mohammed Irfan.
But if you go by results, then they are found wanting. The great Pakistani bowling attack featuring Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar set the world record of taking 10/10 wickets in 10 straight ODIs.
Recently the Indian bowling attack set the World Cup record for 7/7.
In the last 20 ODIs, the Pakistani bowling attack has bowled out the opposition only 4 times. That’s really nothing to write home about. Two of those matches include weak teams like Zimbabwe and Ireland.
In fact Pakistan had just one really good match in the World Cup when it beat a strong team in the form of South Africa. The others were victories with minnows and a weak team like Zimbabwe.
But then even Ireland beat the West Indies and Bangladesh beat England, so that’s not a really big achievement for a former World Champion.
Otherwise it lost to West Indies (160 all down), India (224 all down) and Australia (213 all down).
The truth is that when faced by a strong opponent, the batsmen cannot even keep their wickets intact while the bowlers really struggle.
Of course in a way you really can’t blame Pakistan. They have totally lost the advantage of the home tours thanks to the Sri Lanka series that saw the ghastly attack way back in 2009. The domestic structure leaves a lot to be desired and they are not even playing matches in the IPL.
Post-2000 they have won just one knockout match in an ODI World Cup (the 2011 quarter final with West Indies).
Maybe the time has come to retire Misbah, Afridi and Younis for good and rely totally on youth. Pakistan has never had a shortage of talent. They only could never handle and hold on to that talent.
Meanwhile it has been a forgettable World Cup for Pakistan.
In their first match they were 224 all down and thrashed by India while in their final match they were 213 all down and thrashed by Australia.
The 1992 World Cup final was played between Pakistan and England. In 2015 both those countries look like ghosts of their former selves.The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/